Tag: communication

TAKING A PROACTIVE APPROACH TO WORK IN LOCKDOWN

In recent months, the public have made a collaborative effort to get life back to some sense of normal. As lockdown restrictions began to ease, employees returned to the workplace, children were back in school and the economy was embarking on a long road to recovery.

This progress, however, is now at risk of coming to an abrupt halt. Although businesses across all sectors have worked tirelessly to become safe and secure, this global pandemic is once again on the rise and stricter social measures are set to be reintroduced.

Although this may be a daunting prospect for many, we must try to remind ourselves of the positive developments that have been made both in our personal and professional lives.

Among the many changes society has experienced, the biggest adjustments were most prevalent in the way we work. New technologies were embraced at a rapid rate, working practices were completely modified and entire industries underwent their own digital revolution.

Yes, the prospect of another lockdown is unwelcome, but businesses across the country are now equipped to deal with this scenario and must take with them the lessons they have learnt from the past nine months.

Communication and connectivity

The sudden shift to remote working caused widespread disruption across the marketplace. Offices became completely barren as vast numbers of employees began to work for their own homes. Although having a flexible workforce isn’t a new concept, it has never been practiced on such a wide scale and, for the most part, on a permanent basis.

A trial by fire for many, clients, customers, employees, and key stakeholders had to quickly evolve their traditional working methods if they were to ensure productivity and business continuity remained intact.

Those that were successful will have undoubtedly implemented new and innovative technologies into their business processes. This has proven to be most effective in the way we now communicate.

With physical interactions strictly prohibited, the Open Comms team for example have utilised video calling as a safe and secure alternative. Although the preference for many will always be to engage face-to-face, the enhancement of video capabilities has provided many benefits to our team. As with many workforces across the country, it has ultimately helped us to remain open for business.

With a flexible working approach, employers have been able to allocate more time to catch up with their team and other office members, whether this is through Teams, Skype or other video conference platforms.

Unexpectedly, without the usual rat race rush and time spent in a particular office, the use of technology has also enabled employees to become better connected to colleagues from different areas of the business. Not only does this create a more connected and inclusive culture, but it also promotes synergy across the company as a whole.

More importantly, many businesses have harnessed video conferencing to deliver a digital customer experience when conducting consumer to business interactions. As the behaviors of potential consumers continue to change, those hardest hit by this global pandemic must resume using video technology as a means of engaging with their customer base and selling products or services.

Mental and physical wellbeing

As we are now many months into the Coronavirus crisis, the traditional eight-hour working day is being slowly replaced with a more flexible model. Although adjustment periods can often be difficult, adapting to living amid a global pandemic has the potential to magnify all our concerns and anxieties.

When the spread of this virus initially took hold, the uncertainty that came with it undoubtedly had an adverse impact to many people’s mental states and being housebound for multiple months was also detrimental to our physical fitness.

However, we quickly learnt to take advantage of lockdown by using the extra time to enjoy life away from the office. Whether this was developing new hobbies, exercising more frequently or spending some much-needed time with our families. We must continue to make concerted efforts to stay proactive despite the threat of Covid continuing to impact our lives.

That being said, it is important to remember that no one person’s mental health will be the same, and therefore can change on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. When someone may be struggling, another could be thriving. Therefore, whether it’s business or in our personal lives, we must also be wary of the people we work and live with as further social restrictions come into play.

Although this has obviously been a difficult year, we must continue to adapt what we have learned over the past several months to improve our daily and future lives. Once this has passed, the legacy of this pandemic should see our working and personal lives be vastly improved.

HOW IGNORING PR CAN BE DAMAGING TO YOUR BUSINESS

PR can have a transformational impact on businesses of any size, yet there remains an outdated and unfounded stigma around the value and results that it can deliver.

It goes without saying that communication is critical in the current marketplace. The success of any organisation largely depends on how it engages with its target audience, whether its towards the customer, client, employee or stakeholder.

This is exactly what PR professionals do!

As an agency, we form trusted partnerships with our clients to deliver strategic communications that meet with business objectives. This could be sharing key messages with the masses or more specific and targeted campaigns.

The one consistent factor is that our results speak for themselves.

In a nutshell, we increase brand awareness, help launch new services and products to market, enhance company or individual reputations to help them to become more commercially viable. When combined, the delivery of our services ultimately helps clients to achieve business goals.

Without a robust PR and marketing strategy, businesses are at risk of putting themselves at a disadvantage within the marketplace and losing all visibility with current and prospective customers.

In order to elaborate further, I’ve chosen just three outputs from PR that businesses will find hard to achieve unless they invest in professional services.

Media coverage

Sitting at the heart of PR is securing media coverage. Communications professionals form and develop lasting relationships with a vast number of contacts and journalists. Despite how specific or niche a market may be, members of press, publications and influencers can be targeted to help generate positive publicity for a particular business.

As there is an abundance of ways to digest news, both in print and digital, PR professionals will use their experience and expertise to approach the media with a story that is newsworthy and relevant. The idea being that it is then featured in regional, national or trade publications.

Once media coverage has been secured, it can then be leveraged to increase brand awareness, create a positive public perception and act as a useful platform to promote the launch of new products and services.

Without any investment in PR, businesses are likely to lose this opportunity and as a result fail to be recognised as a legitimate competitor within a specific marketplace.

Social media activity

Social media channels have now established themselves as the digital high street for many businesses. Now more than ever, a greater amount of attention needs to be given to these platforms as they are arguably the first place that target audiences will visit.

In other words, social media channels must give off a good first impression!

Whether it is Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn, businesses need to use each channel to serve a purpose, whether this is showcasing new services or products, promoting brand identity or sharing critical company announcements. They need to act as a reliable and relevant communication resource.

This can be achieved by building the credibility of all platforms, which need to garner a strong following from relevant and influential businesspeople, members of the media, industry counterparts or new and existing clients.

As followers increase, so will the levels of engagement with different posts. This is especially useful when sharing media coverage as it can help significantly increase the amount of people who read about the positive news a company has to share. Thus, increasing brand awareness.

By investing in PR, businesses can ensure that each channel is managed by a team of specialists who understand what type of content should be posted and when. This will enable social media platforms to be used as useful tools to help businesses build towards achieving wider growth ambitions.

Crisis management

Although crisis scenarios are thankfully rare for most, businesses must ensure they have the capability to deal with a problem if one were to ever arise. Whether this be a corporate, public, or internal issue or incident, how this is handled can be make or break for businesses.

Reputation is everything within the marketplace, and once this is destroyed, recovery can be almost impossible!

The most effective way to combat these types of situations is having an experienced crisis management team in place. This forms a big part of the PR toolkit. Communications professionals can explore and identify potential situations that could cause irreversible harm to a brand or business. This is combatted by the implementation of proactive PR strategy.

Despite how prepared the team may be, crisis’ can also occur with no warning at all. This is exactly why it is critical to have a capable team ready to tackle and resolve these issues with minimal collateral damage.

Navigating through these sensitive situations without profession PR support could spell disaster for a business. Damage to brand reputation will have a devastating impact that can never be fixed. The question perhaps therefore is not can you afford PR, but can your business survive and thrive without it?

Investing in public relations is critical to the success of any organisation, now is the time to take action and let PR do the talking.

If you would like to know more about Open Comms and the services we offer, why not give us a call on 01924 862477 or contact us here.

DESPITE MANY CHANGES PR REMAINS A VALUABLE TOOL FOR BUSINESS

Over the past few months and throughout the worst of the Coronavirus Pandemic businesses large and small have been faced with numerous changes and we have supported new and existing clients in several different ways.

More so than ever before, competition between businesses is high and the fight for survival is real. I believe that more companies will recognise the value of PR and understand how beneficial it can be as we move through unchartered territory. Having a good communications strategy to support your future might be the key to succeeding in an ever-changing climate.

Coming out of lockdown, one thing is clear, and that is the need for effective engagement with audiences to secure sales.

Reach a wider audience

As businesses have negotiated the changes caused by the pandemic, the need to appeal to a wider and increasingly varied target audience has grown. Consumer attitudes and trends have changed and using PR helps businesses to market themselves across multiple channels.

The need to reach a new audience or demographic coming out of lockdown is where PR could really help a business, and even extend the opportunities it has.

Social Media as an important tool

I am sure we are all aware by now that our internet and social media usage has skyrocketed during lockdown. While this may reduce a little as we move back to ‘normal’, social media should not be underestimated as a marketing tool. In fact, the benefits of using social media for business are ever increasing.

Social media management and content creation are often a key component of our work with clients. PR professionals have the expertise to support growth in this key area and create compelling content that attracts attention and engagement.

While the need for traditional media remains, it is worth being aware of other ways to communicate with customers and how PR professionals can support in this area.

Reactive to opportunities

PR practitioners have contacts across multiple media and are always on the look out for new opportunities that might be beneficial for clients.

Working with an agency gives businesses access to opportunities they might never have considered. Reactive opportunities can be anything from getting a quote from an expert to offing a product as a prize for a competition on the radio. Both get the name of the business or product out there effectively and raise its profile.

The more reactive opportunities that a business can benefit from, the more chance there is of relationships being built with the media. This means that journalists will come to the brand in the future.

Helpful in advertising activities

While it was concluded that PR is almost 90 per cent more effective than advertising it can be very useful when used in conjunction with other tactics during a wider campaign.

While many still believe advertising is enough on its own, the trust built by PR is invaluable to businesses of all sizes. And, it goes without saying, consumers prioritise trust and brand experience over anything else.

While PR professionals will have to make changes in line with the ‘new normal’, the need for brands to invest in communications will be as great as ever.

If you would like to know more about Open Comms and the services we offer, why not give us a call on 01924 862477 or contact us here.

WHY PR BELONGS AROUND THE BOARDROOM TABLE

PR deserves a place around the boardroom table

When I first started my career, it was almost unheard of that PR would be represented around the boardroom table. Over the years I’m pleased that in the most part this has been addressed. In this blog, we explore why PR belongs around the boardroom table.

Reputation is the most important asset a company has at its disposal. It can be used to the advantage of an organisation or ignored to the detriment of that brand. The choice lies firmly with the business.

PR is the specialism that ties firmly into the management of that asset.

Establish

When a company launches, it is now common practice for a business to invest in PR. It may be for a one-off project or for a more sustained period. The latter will always deliver stronger results, but it isn’t always possible for every organisation to recognise this from the outset.

The idea behind establishing a brand is to communicate with an audience that will become receptive to its message. How a company chooses to do this is up to them. The approach can be different every time, but the objective remains the same; to educate prospective customers about a product or service.

When we think about how important this one piece of work is, we start to appreciate why these decisions need to be made by senior managers. We are relying on a team of experts to communicate effectively with the chosen audience and in turn evoke a response.

Customers are essential for business. You wouldn’t leave that level of responsibility with just anyone. There is a huge emphasis on trust. As such, the person leading this team needs a seat around the boardroom table.

Maintain

Once a brand has been established, it needs to be maintained. We cannot expect that communicating once with an audience will ever be good enough. In a world where there are marketing messages surrounding us all, we need to gain cut through.

Consistency is fundamental at this stage of the process. Having a clear plan that will give a brand the opportunity to share updates, news and further launches will keep an audience interested. As well as attracting new prospective customers, it’s also about building affinity and resonance with those that have purchased.

The journey with PR never ends. It may take slightly different directions however the idea is to take your customers with you. Brands that create real loyalty are those that do this the best. They are also the ones that recognise the value of PR and its role around the boardroom table.

Build

Brand building comes in many forms. It could be about retaining a fresh image and using current language in all communications. In this example, we are referring to PR and the use of a sustainable plan to build a brand over time.

Having a schedule of activity will allow any company to test an idea, measure the results and review. The beauty of PR is that it evolves over time. Any plan can change at the drop of a hat, so flexibility and being agile is key.

The hardest brands to work with are those that don’t really understand PR or what it is used for. It’s those that consider it to be a ‘nice to have’. Anything that is a nice to have is never going to be a priority and PR should be.

For businesses of all sizes, to manage your communications should be an objective. As well as using media relations and content to educate an audience, PR can also be used during a crisis. This is when companies see the immediate value. It shouldn’t come to that.

Establishing, maintaining and building a reputation 

Establishing, maintaining and building a reputation are all skills that will allow a business to become a success it deserves to be. Having the person or team responsible for that around the boardroom table makes perfect sense.

PR should be considered as important as finance. A company would never function without some knowledge of where the budgets are going. The same can be said for communications. If you are unaware of who is saying what about your business and to whom, perhaps you only have yourself to blame.

Give PR the place it deserves in your business and see how it benefits your bottom line.

WHAT IS A CONTENT STRATEGY?

Creating a content strategy

As with many phrases that are industry specific, people often ask us what is a content strategy? The simple answer is that it is a plan which supports what information you will share, where and with whom.

There is a misconception that marketing and communication for a business is easy. You simply talk to the right people, at the right time and in the right place. Ok. In principle that is correct. In practice it takes a great deal more thought, time and effort than that.

Audience mapping

The first challenge is to define your audience groups. This can be more difficult than it initially appears. The reality being that once you are honest about who your customers are, the rest will follow.

Knowing who is purchasing your product or service is key. This doesn’t mean that this will be your audience forever. It is possible to have a captive audience, preferred target and aspirational community.

This is where PR can be really beneficial.

You see, nothing is fixed. The idea that you put together a plan and that it never changes would be absurd to anyone working in the specialism. Much of what we do is about test and measure. Even when you get the results you are looking for the strategy will need tweaking to make sure the plan evolves alongside the business.

Getting the messaging right

The next step in preparing a content strategy is getting the message right. Consistency is really important if what you want your communications to resonate with your audience. Keep it simple. Don’t overcomplicate what you are trying to say to sound intelligent.

This is one of the most common pitfalls with companies that want to engage with their prospects. The belief is that using big words and jargon-laden phrases will impress. The truth is that people don’t have the time to digest what you are trying to say.

Getting straight to the point and showcasing expertise in the examples you share will work far better than writing like you have swallowed a thesaurus.

Choosing the medium

We have more opportunity to communicate than ever before. As well as printed marketing materials and company websites, we also have newspapers, broadcast (TV and radio) and social media channels.

The trick is to identify what mediums your audience(s) will be most likely to access on a regular basis.

Putting your message in the right place is what makes PR so powerful. It allows you to speak directly to those that you hope will buy your product.

Going back to mapping, think very carefully about where to put your energies. Businesses can find PR overwhelming because there is so much to do. Breaking this down into bite-sized chunks and being honest about where your customers access information will make life simpler.

Timings  

Timing is critical when it comes to getting the best results from PR. If you have a product that you sell directly to consumers, then you may want to consider how soon you can make announcements about new products.

With some of the clients we work with, we are planning more than six months in advance. It seems inconceivable but in February we are planning for Halloween and Christmas. This is because consumer publications work so far in advance.

With business to business, it’s essential that you keep abreast of the wider media agenda. Even local events that are taking place could command space within a newspaper that may otherwise have been allocated to your story.

Think about what is happening, key dates throughout the year and the local and wider media agenda. Identify the times that would give you the best opportunities to share your message with the right people.

Don’t choose those that will be most popular. All you will do is make your job harder than it needs to be. Think about your angle, the news you want to share and then draft the content for that specific medium with your audience in mind.

Pulling the plan together

Once you have covered the above, it’s time to pull it all together. This is where you start to see a content strategy unfold.

There is no need to purchase expensive software or to find impressive charts. Use an excel document with relevant columns; audience, message, medium and timings throughout the year.

Once you have populated your spreadsheet, you can identify any gaps. This will give you the chance to think carefully about what you want to do in this space. It may be that greater thought needs to be given to this or that it is a longer-term objective.

The devil is in the detail

Content strategies will evolve quickly. You will see what your audience is most receptive to and you can do more of that. Equally, you will see what they choose to ignore, and the time spent on this can be redirected accordingly.

Make sure to review your content strategy regularly, then you know you have a document you can work from that will deliver results.

Alternatively, call an agency and get the professional help and support that you need. PR may not be a dark art, but it is an essential and business critical tool for those that want to succeed and expand.

MAKING EXCITING PLANS THAT GIVE US ALL SOMETHING TO LOOK FORWARD TO

Over the past few months, I’m sure I’m not alone in having ALL my plans cancelled. Holiday’s, birthday parties, festivals, all cancelled as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. This has left me feeling low and lacking motivation. Usually, I like to have things booked in advance and love to see everything written down in my diary; I simply like to have things to look forward to and see my month planned out on paper.

Having something to look forward to, be it a coffee with a friend, a holiday or simply starting a new series on Netflix can brighten up the gloomiest of days.

Planning in PR

Planning ahead is also important at work, particularly in a PR role when being organised is crucial. We often plan campaigns months in advance, not only does this help us manage client accounts effectively, it helps us to see if we have the capacity to take on new projects. While this process can feel tedious at the time there is nothing more rewarding than seeing a campaign executed effortlessly after months of organisation.

Planning for a sense of purpose

I like to plan ahead as I find it makes me work much more efficiently and I’m more purposeful with my actions if I know exactly what I’m hoping to achieve. Having a solid plan in place provides a timeline of where I should be and when. It allows me to tick off things I have completed and provides a sense of fulfilment.

Plans Change

When you begin to execute a plan, it can quickly change and develop into something very different. When this happens, which it will, all the hard work shouldn’t be seen as a waste, its part of the process and overcoming obstacles helps us learn so we can plan better in the future.

Planning for an Objective

Without a solid plan in place the objective of a campaign or project can become skewed. Having a carefully considered schedule to refer back to provides a constant reminder of the end goal and prevents the objective getting lost in the development stage. In PR, the importance of meeting the objective is of great significance and why a detailed client brief is so important. Read more on this here.

For me, having plans in place in all aspects of my life helps provide a sense of purpose and gives me something to look forward to. I feel more satisfied and purposeful in my actions and find my mental health suffers when nothing is in my diary.

The benefits of planning are not to be underestimated!

For further information on how we can help you make plans for your business, please contact Open Communications on tel. 01924 862477.

RECOGNISING THE IMPORTANCE OF FACE TO FACE COMMUNICATION

One lesson I’ve learnt from lockdown is the importance of face to face communication. Not only has this been something I’ve missed from my personal life, it’s something I’ve missed from a professional perspective too.

With ever increasing opportunities for virtual engagement it’s easy to see how we could move away from face to face meetings for good. As we move towards our new normal, it’s got me thinking if there really is a need to travel long distances for meetings and spend every day in the office.

While many have suggested the traditional office formalities are near extinct, I’ve begun to appreciate the need for personal interactions and believe they are invaluable in the PR world.

Colleague relationships

In the first few weeks of lockdown, I found myself missing the office banter and the endless rounds of tea delivered to my desk. Now, I find myself longing for a team meeting where we can get together in person and discuss our actions without a sound delay or speaking over others.

In PR our working relationships are important and there is nothing like getting together to brainstorm ideas for a campaign. We work best when we can bounce off each other and share our creativity. It also means we can suggest the wildest stunts and feed our imaginations.

We can see the excitement in our colleagues faces and make our intentions are clear. People have to be in a room together to really get the best ideas flowing. This is something that simply can’t be recreated on Microsoft Teams. It’s getting us through lockdown, but I miss the sense of community the weekly office meeting brings.

Client Relationships

At Open Comms we have continued to maintain regular contact with our clients and have been very much business as usual throughout the pandemic, but meeting with our clients face to face has been missed.

We believe taking the time to get to know our clients means we understand their values and allows us to develop stronger business relationships and deliver the desired results. It isn’t always about work; it is about chatting and learning more about the personalities behind the brands we work for.

Seeing someone in person allows you to get to know them quicker and better. It is a way to find out about shared interests and to become more than just a third-party supplier. We always say that we are an extension of our clients’ teams and that is very true. It remains the case in the virtual world, but it isn’t the same.

Emotion

When communicating virtually, the ability to read body language and facial expressions are lost and any emotion is removed. Without these cues we raise the risk of misinterpreting the tone of an email or call.

While other businesses may thrive from a move to virtual communication, I think the value of face to face communication in the PR sector will last for many more years to come.

And as we finally start to see the lockdown restrictions eased, I absolutely can’t wait to reconnect with family, friends, colleagues and clients alike.

If you would like to know more about Open Comms and the services we offer, why not give us a call on 01924 862477 or contact us here.

LEAVING LOCKDOWN A BETTER PR PROFESSIONAL

As we are continuing to adapt to new ways of living and working amid the Coronavirus crisis, dare I say that there finally appears to be a slight glimmer of light at the end of a turbulent and challenging tunnel.

Normal has and is continuing to change. Our lives will be impacted by this pandemic for many months to come. And, despite the overwhelming feeling that we are navigating through these unprecedented times together, I cannot help but think that our own experiences will be vastly different.

We are at the brink of a nationwide recession, unemployment rates are rising and most tragically, people are still losing their lives and loved ones to Covid-19. I’m sure I can speak for the majority of people when I say there have been some extremely dark days during this lockdown period.

Yet, despite being drenched in this daily wave of negativity, I must look within my own situation and be at least thankful that many key elements of my daily life have remained intact, especially when it comes to work.

Positivity in the workplace

Like many sectors across the UK, the PR industry hasn’t eluded the damaging impact of the Coronavirus. Here at Open Comms, however, we are fortunate enough that the entire team have managed to keep a sense of business as usual throughout this global crisis.

This transition has certainly not been without its challenges. Similar to many companies across the country, we have all been working remotely. Our processes have had to be modified but we have largely ensured that the services we deliver have remained uncompromised.

This is why I feel fortunate, but it’s not the only reason. When I look back at my own lockdown experience, I recognise that through necessity I have gained valuable new skills, adopted more efficient working practices and my PR skillset is continuously improving.

Learning to adapt

It was inevitable that as the marketplace was impacted by this widespread disruption. Many businesses would have to, rather quickly, change their strategies going forward and for the foreseeable future. This was no different with our clients, and we had to therefore taken both a proactive and a reactive approach.

This was most evident on our clients’ social media channels. To reflect the current climate, we had to completely revise the messaging and tone of a program of activity we had previously collated. In order to avoid any inactivity on these platforms, the new content had to be turned around quickly and then shared across multiple platforms immediately.

Another client reacted to the Covid-19 crisis by amending a critical support service, so it is available to those who need it most at this time. Prior to the launch of this new scheme we took a proactive approach by specifically targeting media titles that have already shown an appetite for sharing this content around the subject.

Upon contacting members of the media, we also repurposed the press release to highlight each specific region in order to secure as much coverage as possible. Following this update, the story was covered throughout the UK, including every region this service is available in.

True value of regular communications

It is at times of crisis that positive communications play such a vital role. At times, PR may not be seen as a ‘must have’ by many, but I believe it is now evident just how valuable it can be. The success of a company can often be attributed to its reputation, and nobody understands how better to grow this then communication experts.

Aside from the successes we have achieved on behalf of our clients in lockdown, one of the biggest triumphs I’ve seen is how the Open Comms team has regularly and robustly continued to communicate, not just with clients, but also with each other. Shifting to remote working can be an arduous adjustment and can put daily correspondence at risk.

Whether it’s transferring our usual team meetings to morning video conferences, scheduling in private calls to further discuss work projects or simply putting on the kettle and having that much needed catch-up, tasks such as these give me that sense of normality, we all long for.

If you would like to know more about Open Comms and the services we offer, why not give us a call on 01924 862477 or contact us here.

HOW SOCIAL MEDIA CAN BE USED FOR ALL THE RIGHT REASONS

Whether we like it or not, social media is already a big part of our lives both personal and in a business capacity. And, if you’re anything like me, you spend longer than you care to admit scrolling through the latest content on Instagram.

But, as something that’s often spoken of as a bad apple, social media can be incredibly useful. Here are some of the reasons why companies should take advantage of these platforms and increase their business presence online.

Social media is a platform that can be used to reach thousands of people

With regular posts that use hashtags and competitions that offer relevant prizes, you can engage directly with your audience.

Taking this approach, you will soon create a community of like-minded people. This then means that the posts you share have the potential to reach thousands of prospective customers.

Consistency is key here and frequent posts are a sure way to increase following over time. It is important to remember that this won’t happen overnight. However, with perseverance will come results.

Create a Brand Persona

If you review the social feeds of a few of your favourite brands, you can bet they are carefully curated to appeal to a specific demographic. They will also portray that business in a certain light by using a particular tone of voice.

Using social media gives you the opportunity to show off the personality behind your brand. This can be done through organic posts, adverts, endorsed content, images of your product and also when replying to consumers questions.

Easy way to communicate

Being active on social media gives potential customers the opportunity to reach out and ask questions they might not want to approach through email or on the phone.

These platforms are the perfect medium for asking these questions and are often used as a more informal way of communicating with a business.

Keep your eye on other Brands

Being active on social media allows you to keep a watchful eye on other brands. This may even be competitors.

It is common for brands to follow competitors and is a great research tool. It may even provide inspiration or lessons of how to avoid a crisis. Learning from others is fine however copying posts or plagiarising content isn’t. It can be a fine line so is one to remain cautious of.

Crisis Management

Often, by keeping a close watch on social activity and comments, you can stop a crisis in its tracks. Taking hold before it has had chance to have an impact on your business could be invaluable.

Unfortunately, social media is often the first-place consumers go to broadcast a complaint or opinion. In some instances, this will show your brand in a negative light.

Responding to such comments gives you the opportunity to deal with any problems quickly and efficiently. It also shows other followers you take negative feedback seriously and are keen to resolve any issues.

Managing complaints professionally and with the right tone and approach could turn a negative into a positive. It is just a case of knowing how to communicate with customers online.

Using PR to enhance online presence

It may sound simple but growing a social media presence can take serious perseverance and trial and error.

As a PR agency we have seen the demand for social media management grow over the years. Access to digital communications, and the expectation from customers that brands have an online profile, has made this a key part of our clients’ briefs.

To find out how we can support as you increase your social media following and online profile in the right way, why not give us a call on 01924 862477 or contact us here.

SHARE YOUR STORY: BUILD YOUR BRAND

PR is about telling stories and building brands

Brand loyalty is not what it used to be. People don’t typically have the same affinity with a company they once did. Perhaps because we now purchase for convenience rather than experience. We access our shopping online or from conglomerates. We have absolutely no idea who served us from one day to the next. That is assuming you didn’t use self checkout.

Times have changed and so have expectations. Consumers want quick, easy and accessible. They want price checks and free returns policies. It’s no longer about relationship building or shared values, it’s about simplicity and functionality.

But what if things were to change?

What’s your story?

Storytelling is an underestimated skill.

Sharing content that is useful, insightful and meaningful has changed the landscape for brands, giving them an opportunity to create a point of difference. In a bid to stand out from the crowd, manufacturers and retailers need to let people know why they should choose one product over another.

This isn’t just about why a business started in the first place, it goes beyond that. In order to give a true impression of a company and what it stands for, an organisation needs to decide what themes will resonate with its audience(s).

It may be the values of a business, the sustainable approach it takes, its corporate social responsibility or the skill, time, effort and experience that goes into making the final product. It may be tone of voice and an honesty that is not typical within a given market or all of the above.

Whatever it happens to be, making a plan for posting content and giving consumers the opportunity to learn more about a company will equip them with the information they need to make more informed choices.

Content that matters

There is a belief that posting a blog every now and then will do the trick and sharing copy across social channels will have people flicking on the kettle and grabbing a cup of tea ready to sit down for a good read.

The truth is that people are just as busy as you are.

It is therefore necessary for brands to consider this and to condense copy so that it can be shared in a way that will appeal to the widest overall audience. It is fine to draft a blog, but break the copy up and then provide a revised version which will share the main points across social channels. If people want to read more they can. Working in this way gives them the choice.

Organisations should map out what the audience needs, wants and what they will enjoy. It may be industry specific topics, thought leadership articles, advice and guidance or something more light-hearted, such as a weekly update from the workforce.

Identifying what is most likely to work will save time and also keep people coming back for more. There is no point in sharing the same content over and over. This is a chance to mix things up and to give a brief glimpse behind closed doors.

Content that changes behaviours

Marketing and PR can be a reoccurring point on agendas which never gets the attention it deserves.

What business owners may fail to realise is that well written copy that is shared regularly can change behaviours. That means that people could switch from purchasing one brand to another based on access to information and strategic storytelling.

Some brands do this very well and use the opportunity to share updates as a way of reiterating the importance of every purchaser to them. Not only does this start to build a community of like minded people, it also gives those involved the confidence they have made the right decision.

When you think about it, would you rather purchase from a faceless, transactional business that will seemingly never give you a second thought or from a brand with personality that thanks you for your custom and directs you to useful content that you can access at your leisure.

Forcing the point

It is absolutely imperative that whatever the size of the business, those responsible for drafting copy understand the difference between selling and sharing. There is a fine line between commercial marketing and editorial PR, which can seem like a mountain to climb when you are faced with a blank sheet and a blog post to draft.

When curating content, it is a good to set out a plan. What is the purpose of the copy, what is the point and why will people read and share it? Without the answers to each of these questions, you may find you are wasting your time.

Forcing a point may come across as a sales pitch, which can do more damage than good. The purpose is rather to educate, inform and give people the detail and background they need to make an informed choice about your product and business.

That is why establishing a tone of voice will give you an edge and will make drafting copy far simpler. It will mean that you are able to inject personality and to build this over time. It doesn’t have to remain exactly the same, it can evolve and those that do become loyal follows will become a part of that journey.

Starting small, thinking big

Drafting content and sharing stories should be a part of any businesses planning and strategy if they want to build a strong and resilient brand.

Rather than make this ‘another thing to do’, the best way to implement change is to start small and think big. One suggestion would be to draft a blog a month, which is supported by social media updates across the most appropriate channels to redirect the audience to that post.

There can then be plans to increase this as the audience increases and customers become more accustomed to the sharing of regular content. Setting clear measures of success should be all the encouragement a business needs to continue. After all, if the right approach is taken, the results will follow.